Category Archives: Other Comics

Deadly Nightshade After Closing Time

Comic Cavalcade was an anthology series that ran from 1942 until 1954, publishing super-heroes and other adventures for the first six years. Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern were the headliners. DC has reprinted the first three issues as The Comic Cavalcade Archives, Vol. 1. (At 100 pages per issue, it’s still a pretty big collection!) I bought a copy, mainly for the Flash stories, and it finally arrived yesterday.

I read a few of the stories this afternoon, and these panels from the Green Lantern story in issue 1, “The Adventures of Luckless Lenore,” made me laugh out loud.

Two panels from Comic Cavalcade #1

Green Lantern’s sidekick, Doiby, has been trying to romance Lenore, whose “bad luck” seems to be engineered. At this point he’s been captured. I didn’t even notice the name of the bar the first time through, it was the menu that caught me off-guard. Continue reading

Speed Reading: Misney, Sergio, Lex & Planetary

And some non-Flash linkblogging to round out the week!

There’s a million pieces of Marvel/Disney fan art by now, but these posts collect some good ones:

This next one is Flash-related, but seems to fit well with the Disney mash-ups: it’s a sketch Livesay shared of Donald Duck and the Flash, by Don Rosa.

Die Kal-El Die! chronicles building Lex Luthor’s power suit for this year’s Comic-Con International.

The Ventura County Star profiles artist Sergio Aragon├ęs (Mad Magazine, Groo the Wanderer, etc.) (via Robot6).

WildStorm has posted a preview of Planetary #27, the long-awaited epilogue to the Warren Ellis/John Cassaday series that will finally arrive next month! The Hallelujah Chorus ran through my head when I saw this. And it gets better: They’ve got wallpaper and icons.

The Weekly Crisis recommends comics to read after Fables and Y: The Last Man.

LOL_SpamFinally, I’ve got another project called LOL_Spam. In a nutshell: a couple of times a day I post a funny spam subject line, usually with snarky commentary. If that sounds amusing, please check it out!

Oh, yeah, one more thing: I’ve added a bit to this morning’s Classic Flash round-up.

Disney Buys Marvel: What The–?!

Marvel What The--?! #3 (1988)So, the Internet is abuzz with Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics.

There seems to be a lot of freaking out along the lines of “OMG Disney will turn Marvel into kid stuff!” There’s also a lot of people having fun with mash-ups, as seen on #disneymarvel.

A little perspective, though:

Conglomerate

DC Comics has been owned by Warner Bros. (or rather its parent company, currently Time Warner) since the 1970s. From what I’ve heard, DC is more limited by merchandising at this point than by its corporate parent. Don’t change Superman into someone you can’t put on a kids’ beach towel.

Admittedly, Warner Bros. is less of a top-down hierarchy. When describing the fight to find Babylon 5 a new home when PTEN collapsed, JMS described Warner Bros. as “a series of competing and structurally independent fiefdoms.” (WB wouldn’t take Babylon 5 because it was a PTEN show.

Of course, this brings to mind images of Bugs Bunny-as-Superman vs. Mickey Mouse-as-Wolverine. Say, didn’t Duck Dodgers actually get a Green Lantern ring in one comic?

Disney isn’t just Disney. It’s also ESPN, ABC, Miramax, and Touchstone. It’s not just Mickey Mouse and Hannah Montana, it’s also Kill Bill, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. And while Disney has been known for strict corporate control, they managed not to break Pixar.

Movies

It may be that my lack of concern for Marvel’s comic books has to do with the fact that I’m not much of a Marvel reader. But I have seen a lot of their movies, and I do see a major potential pitfall there.

The big advantage Marvel has had over DC in terms of movie development is that until recently, they could shop around to different studios. So they could have X-Men in development at Fox, Spider-Man at Sony, and Hulk at Universal, while DC was stuck with Warner Bros. — a company that exudes caution in every move and seemed to want to make only one movie at a time.

Now Marvel’s tied to a single studio, just like DC, except for projects already in development like the current Spider-Man series and the X-Men spinoffs.

BOOM!

My main concern on reading the news was actually what might happen with BOOM! Studios’ Pixar and Muppet comics. Why would Disney want to keep hiring out to a third party when they own a comics company? BOOM! made a big splash last year with their Jim Henson and Disney deals, particularly Farscape, The Muppet Show and The Incredibles…and then Henson took the rest of their properties to Archaia, and now Disney’s buying Marvel.

The short term answer, according to this list at CBR, is that “Existing licensing and distribution deals should remain where they are.” So BOOM! gets to keep producing The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and so forth. When that contract is up, who knows? Maybe it’ll come down to whether Disney likes what they’ve been doing. Or maybe it’ll come down to whether someone in management wants to save a few bucks by staying inside the company.

Presumably the same would be true of the characters at Universal Studios theme parks: they’d stay in place until the contract runs out.

Update: Further analysis and discussion at Comics Worth Reading, The Beat, Robot 6, Comics Should Be Good, and The Weekly Crisis. And it looks like Bleeding Cool is melting down (bleeding out?) under the strain of the discussion.

Reviewing the Unwritten, the Unthinkable, the Unknown

I’d been planning to pick up Mark Waid’s The Unknown since learning about it back in February. The Unwritten sort of snuck up on me, but I read a preview in an issue of either House of Mystery or Madame Xanadu, and decided to check it out. The 99-cent first issue cemented the deal. Then there’s Unthinkable, which isn’t usually my type of story, but I was amused by the fact that all three first issues were coming out on the same day…and then I read quite a bit about it when the TSA found the script for an issue and detained the writer at an airport. So I grabbed that one as well.

Now all three series are on their second issues, and I’ve just caught up on all three of them.

The Unknown

4-issue mini by Mark Waid and Minck Oosterveer from BOOM! Studios. Cat Allingham is a world-class genius problem-solver who makes her living as a consultant to unsolved cases of all types, and has turned her attention to the greatest unsolved problem of all: what happens after death? Her assistant is a former bouncer who happens to be an expert at reading people, and has a mysterious background of his own.

It’s a combination mystery and action adventure, with some bizarre twists along the way — including one at the end of issue #2 that makes you rethink just what’s going on in the previous 40-odd pages. While the Macguffin itself strains my suspension of disbelief, the story around it has been interesting, especially the interplay between the two leads.

Verdict: Definitely on board!

Unthinkable

Mark Sable with Julian Totino Tedesco

5-issue mini, international intrigue and military action. After 9/11, a Tom-Clancy-like action writer gets hired by a think-tank to come up with doomsday scenarios — the unthinkable — before the bad guys do. Nearly a decade later, someone has started putting his ideas into practice.

The first issue is mostly setup, introducing the players and leading up to the attacks. The second issue picks up with the writer trying to get someone to listen to him and anticipate the next steps, which of course goes horribly wrong. (We’re at issue #2 or 5, after all.)

After the first issue, I was solidly onboard for #2. But after #2, I’m not sure I’m interested in continuing. It’s oddly disjointed, with a lot of critical story bits told in narration instead of being shown on the page. And characters shifting sides and motivation apparently with no cause. I’m not sure I’ll keep going with this one, but then as I said, it’s not a genre I’m usually drawn to.

Verdict: Not sure. If you like military action/adventure, you might like it better than I do.

The Unwritten

Ongoing by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, Vertigo.

The main character, Tom Taylor, was the inspiration for his vanished father’s best-selling not-quite-Harry-Potter fantasy series, and is about as self-absorbed as you might expect from the focus of a media empire. At least, that’s what he and everyone else believes until a fan’s question suggests that he’s a fraud. Then there are those who believe he’s the actual Tommy Taylor from the books, somehow brought to life in the real world…and they might not be that far off.

The first story arc is about Tom trying to learn the truth about his origins, and fighting for control of his public perception (con man or messiah?). And then there are the people who want him dead…

The books are filled with literary references (Tom’s father drilled literary geography into his head when he was a child, so he can’t help but remember details when he walks past, say, the building that was the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth in 1984), and the major theme is the intersection of fantasy and reality in the form of stories.

And let’s just say I’ve always been a sucker for stories about the nature of stories. Yes, even before I read Sandman.

Don’t forget to read the text pages. There are fragments of notes, news articles, forum discussions, chat logs, etc. and they all figure in. The first time I read issue #1, I missed the page in the back, and was glad I noticed it this time through.

Verdict: Heck, yeah! I don’t know how long they can keep this up, but I’m definitely along for the ride!

Kindle DX: A Digital Comics Platform?

Kindle DXAmazon has announced the Kindle DX, a new version of their e-book reader with a 9.7-inch screen. Unless I’ve got my numbers wrong, that makes it larger than the standard manga page, though not quite as big as the standard American comic book page. And it’s only 1/3 of an inch thick, comparable to a typical trade paperback.

This could be the first e-reader device suitable for simply taking comics formatted for the printed page and transferring them to a tablet. No need to break it down and show one panel at a time like most iPhone or Android comics. No need to zoom and pan. Just transfer the whole page.

Sure, it’s only black and white, but there are plenty of comics produced in B&W, or reformatted for printing in cheap collections like Marvel Essentials or DC’s Showcase Presents series.

Imagine 30 years of Justice League of America or Spider-Man in the space of the latest trade.

The only drawback is the steep price tag: at $489, I’m not picking one up anytime soon.

(Cross-posted at K-Squared Ramblings.)

Quick Reviews: Ignition City #2, Detective Comics #853, Dynamo 5 #21

Some thoughts on comics I picked up this week:

Dynamo 5 #21

Dynamo 5 #21Jay Faerber, Mahmud A. Asrar, Yildiray Cinar, Ron Riley.

A fun in-between issue. It’s amazing how much actually happens, now that I think about it. The team takes on a group of thugs hopped up on super-steroids, Scrap goes on a date with a guy she met online, Visionary goes on a date with the younger Firebird (and of course, both of them being super-heroes…), Maddie investigates a series of disappearances, Myriad reveals a secret, and a new villain makes his appearance.

I particularly liked the banter between Bridget and her date about the importance of sentence structure and grammar in a prospective date.

On a related note, I’d like to recommend the 2004 one-shot Firebirds by Jay Faerber and Andres Ponce (there’s a preview on Faerber’s website). It tells the story of how a teenager discovers that her mother is actually a super-hero, and the mother discovers that her daughter has inherited her powers. It’s one of the few one-shots that I finished and thought, “Wow, I really wish that was the start of an ongoing series.” It’s nice that the characters have shown up in Noble Causes and Dynamo 5.

Detective Comics #853

Detective Comics #853Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
“Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” Part 2 of 2

On first read I didn’t like this as much as I did the first half of the story — at least not as a story — though I did like the themes it presented. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve found myself comparing it to Alan Moore and Curt Swan’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” which this is obviously meant to evoke. It approaches the end of an iconic superhero from a completely different direction, though: While Moore told in detail the final adventure of a specific version of Superman, Gaiman instead tells in general terms the way every version of Batman would end: he goes down fighting, because that’s what Batman does. In some ways it reminded me a bit of the Planetary/Batman crossover, only taken more seriously.

I’ll have to dig out Part 1 and re-read the whole story at once.

Incidentally: Wholly appropriate for a Coraline ad to appear on the back cover.

Ignition City #2

Ignition City #2Warren Ellis and Gianluca Pagliarani

Warren Ellis is really hit-or-miss for me. I absolutely loved Planetary, and usually enjoy his work when he’s doing out-there science fiction (Orbiter, Ocean, etc.) So the idea of writing about the breakdown of the retro-future, taking all the pulp space heroes like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and showing what happens when they’re robbed of their reason for being, sounded fascinating. The meta-element of revisiting a (mostly) dead genre also reminded me of his Apparat book on aviation heroes, Quit City.

But the first issue seemed like little more than scatalogical humor and swearing.

I picked up the second issue. Partly because I had an idea what to expect, and partly because the story has actually gotten going, I enjoyed this one a lot more. It also made me rethink the first issue and realize that it was primarily scene-setting: set up the glory days, then show just how far these people have fallen. They’ve gone from winning interplanetary wars to drinking themselves to death and bragging about the contents of chamberpots.

Interesting to note: The other two books both gave the and artist(s) equal billing. This one is clearly all about Warren Ellis, whose name appears above the title in about twice the size type as Gianluca Pagliarani.